CLEAR
73
more weather




Monday,
September 30, 2002

 



Tips on searching


Browse Last 30 Days
The Blade Archives
AP Archives


Latest News
Sports
Business
Arts & Entertainment
Davis-Besse In-depth
Opinion
Religion
Health & Science
Columnists
Obituaries
Special Reports
Weather
AP Wire
Photos of the Day
Ohio Lottery
Michigan Lottery


General
Homes
Autos
Jobs
Boats/Recreation
Celebrations
Legal Notices
Directory of Worship
Personals

Events Calendar
Educational Services
Directories
Forums
E-thepeople
TV Listings
Movie Showtimes
Horoscopes


toledo
HBA Parade of Homes
Contests
KidZone
Mud Hens Web Cam


Set As Homepage
Subscriber Services
Email Newsletter
The Blade e-edition
Advertise
About Us
Contact Us
Help & FAQs

Regional News | Article published Monday, September 30, 2002
Broken pact is focus of Brush Wellman trial
Picture

Norgard: one of 2 suits he filed.
ZOOM 1 | ZOOM 2
 View pictures of the day

By KELLY LECKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER


CLEVELAND - A Michigan man who says his salary was wrongly cut off by Brush Wellman five years after he was diagnosed with chronic beryllium disease will take his case to court today.

The breach-of-contract trial between the company and David Norgard of Manitou Beach, Mich., is expected to last less than a week in Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court.

At issue is a contract Mr. Norgard says he signed with Brush Wellman that called for the company to continue paying him a salary after he contracted beryllium disease in 1992. "In 1992, when he was diagnosed with chronic beryllium disease, they told him, ‘Go home and get on with your life, and we will continue to pay you,’" and then cut him off, said Louise Roselle, a Cincinnati attorney representing Mr. Norgard.

Beryllium disease is an incurable, sometimes fatal, lung disease caused by inhaling beryllium, a lightweight metal used largely in the defense industry.

In 1999, The Blade published a six-part series documenting a 50-year pattern of misconduct by the federal government and the beryllium industry, including wrongdoing that caused the injuries and deaths of dozens of workers.

Mr. Norgard began working at Brush’s Elmore plant in 1981 and, according to the lawsuit, developed a rash shortly after. In October, 1981, he signed a contract in which Brush Wellman agreed to pay his salary until he was of legal retirement age, In the ensuing years, he visited doctors and had tests done under Brush Wellman’s direction but was not told until 1992 that he had chronic beryllium disease, the suit says.

After he was diagnosed, Mr. Norgard left the company but continued to be paid. He worked on and off in different jobs for Brush Wellman. He also suffered from depression, and a counselor said it was because of the beryllium disease and the pressure Brush was putting on him, the lawsuit states.

In 1996, Brush told Mr. Norgard he had to return to work and assigned him to work in community service at the Toledo Museum of Art. Mr. Norgard refused, saying it was not part of his agreement.

The suit alleges that Brush pressured Mr. Norgard into taking the job, even after a counselor wrote to the company saying the pressure was harming Mr. Norgard, who was suffering from depression.

Brush Wellman cut off Mr. Norgard’s pay in 1997, the suit says. Mr. Norgard is asking for back pay and legal fees.

But Brush Wellman contends it agreed to pay Mr. Norgard when he was not working if he was unable to work or if the company could not provide work for him. Court records filed by Brush show Mr. Norgard could work and the company had a job for him, but he did not want to work for Brush Wellman.

"Plaintiff is capable of working. He just refuses to work for Brush, purportedly because he has a strong dislike of the company," court records state.

The company also argues Mr. Norgard cannot claim handicap discrimination based on depression and beryllium disease because the law simply requires the company to provide accommodations so the handicapped employee can work.

This is one of two lawsuits Mr. Norgard has filed against Brush Wellman. The other is an intentional tort suit accusing Brush Wellman of intentionally exposing Mr. Norgard to conditions that gave him chronic beryllium disease.

A state appeals court threw the case out, ruling that the suit, filed in 1997, has passed its statute of limitations because workers have two years from the time they are diagnosed and have an idea what caused it. Mr. Norgard’s attorneys took the case to the Ohio Supreme Court, arguing that it was not until 1995 that Mr. Norgard received information that made him believe Brush intentionally withheld information about the causes of chronic beryllium disease.

The Supreme Court agreed with Mr. Norgard. The case is now pending.



Article Features
Printer-friendly version
Forum on this topic
Email to a friend
View the Latest News index
Subcategories
2002 Census

America Remembers

Davis-Besse

Accidents/Vehicular

City of Toledo

Courts

Crime

Elections

Environment

Fires

Higher Education

K-12 Education

Michigan News

Minority Issues

Obituaries - News

Ohio News

Other

Politics

Regional News

Religion

Suburban News

Transportation

War on terrorism

Weather

Zoo & Library










2002 The Blade. Privacy Statement. By using this service, you accept the terms of our visitor agreement: Please read it.

The Toledo Blade Company, 541 N. Superior St., Toledo, OH 43660, (419) 724-6000
To contact a specific department or an individual person, click here.